Last week, DevelopHer celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th March at the House of Parliament, as, Sally Freeman and Sarah Rench from the team were invited to the Women in Parliament IWD event to listen and encourage others on how to be #BeBoldForChange.
During the event, we heard from a number of incredibly bold women who all aimed to fight for equality whether in or outside the Parliament and whether these changes be in our workplace or just in our day-to-day activities. These inspiring women, all mothers, were also tackling the art of balancing and fighting against the stereotypes.
We wanted to share with you the key highlights from these role models and how we can all think about being bold and making change.
- Mims Davies, MP – and the first in her family to enter higher education
– As Parliamentarians it is their our duty to mitigate against injustice
Davies addressed the issue with the lack of MPs who are women. For many decades, female MPs made less than 5% of the total, but since the 2015 general election there are currently 195 female MPs (29%) out of a total 650 members of parliament. Despite there being more female MPs than ever before, Davies emphasised that we still need to reach 50% so we are really hitting quality and ensuring we’re paying the way for the rest of society.
- Maria Miller, MP – Chair for the Women and Equalities Committee
– We need more women into Parliament to have a stronger voice where Parliamentary decisions are made
Miller discussed the importance of scrutinising the government and driving equality. Many MPs have pushed through policies relating to cross-government equality strategy and legislation, transgender equality, sexual harassment prevention and action in schools, women’s health, tackling the gender pay gap and many others. As we start to see progress in these areas, there is a lot more to do and support for these areas.
- Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, MP – Previous accomplished lawyer
– Nothing has come to a women’s agenda without a fight. It doesn’t matter which party you join, it just matters that you join
Sheikh like many of us in DevelopHer believe equality means ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favourably on the basis of their specific protected characteristic including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.
- Baroness Dido Harding of Winscombe and Chief Executive of Talk Talk
– Businesses need to be like rugby teams – they’re made up of different shape, size and looking employees.
“Leading a diverse team can be harder than leading an identical team. It requires an acceptance of difference to get the best out of different people”.
Baroness Harding commented that we are all unconsciously biased and it’s important that this is considered when we are building and managing teams. We need to accept that we are all unconsciously biased, in order to challenge and overcome it. A key lesson Baroness Harding also embraced was the importance for working fathers and male role models who also fight for equality in order for change to happen.
- Fiona Cannon, Director of Inclusion and Diversity at Lloyds, responsible for diversity and inclusion initiatives for 90,000 Lloyds employees and 30 million customers. Cannon was awarded the OBE in 2011 for services to equal opportunities and also recognised as a Working Families Pioneer by Working Families in 2009.
– We are starting to challenge conventional wisdoms
Cannon explained how Lloyds took bold steps in publishing their goal to increase the number of C-suite women to 40% and the importance of more women in positions of authority in all sectors. One approach to change in the workplace is to address that existing business models don’t always meet the needs of employees anymore and that we need to be investing in ‘local hubs’ for work. It’s important to adopt agile hiring or flexible working – and to start breaking the traditional 9-5 office based way of thinking in order to bring benefits for all parties: for employees, companies and clients.
If there is one key learning we could take away from this day of empowerment – is that change is starting to happen and we need to make sure we join work together to ensure change continues to increase equality in our day to day. Never underestimate the power of role models (female or male) and how this can help you be bold not just for now but for the future.
To read more about our Parliament experience, read “ParliaWOMENtarians and the importance” by Sarah Rench from the DevelopHer team.